Mourinho's two watches, Wenger's 'blackmail' & the loop of infinite doom

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While the Catalan press is stuck in an endless Alexis Sánchez-Cesc Fabregas loop of infinite doom, over in Madrid it’s party time. The forces of Mordor are over in Los Angeles for a 13 day pre-season jaunt, and this return to action has given Marca an opportunity to do what they do best - fawn over The Special One like a nine-year-old girl with a Justin Bieber doll.

Thursday’s edition has caught a serious bout of the vapours, with the front cover declaring the Madrid boss to be “Commander Mou” - the evidence being that the coach is giving specific orders on running around cones to his players and carrying a folder, no less. “The players are working at 120%” gushes the front page bonanza, “there are constant corrections during practice games.” But what really got the paper’s juices flowing was the fact Mourinho was wearing two wristwatches - a sight worthy of extreme photo close-up action.

The air in Barcelona still smells of desperation as the Alexis Sánchez moves two steps closer, then one step further away. On Wednesday, Sport was declaring that the Udinese forward had been signed. A day later they had back-tracked a tad, claiming he was about to sign, but only after Barcelona and the Serie A side had stopped squabbling over the finer details of the deal.

The strong message from the paper was that the imminent €48 million transfer was a good one, and certainly not an ostentatious vulgarity, which is what happens whenever other teams - Real Madrid, for example - spend that amount. “Wanting to judge the arrival of Alexis through the cost is a mistake” instructs Josep Maria Casanovas, “don’t look at the price, enjoy the football and if the same happens as with Alves, the cost will soon be forgotten.” 

The paper also continues its demonisation of Arsene Wenger, with one columnist in particular most indignant about the Arsenal manager’s dastardly conduct in the Cesc Fabregas transfer. Responding to the Frenchman’s claim that his midfielder needed to say if he wasn’t happy at the club, José Luis Carazo stormed that “it seems intolerable to us that this arrogant person dares to blackmail the current captain of Arsenal,” before ranting about the London club ‘stealing’ the footballer in the first place.

Newly-promoted Rayo Vallecano are continuing to postpone the start of pre-season training, having been told that there is still no money at the club to pay the players, some of whom have reportedly been without wages for 14 months. “We heard things we didn’t like hearing,” manager José Ramón Sandoval said after a meeting with club president Raul Martín Presa. A demonstration of around 500 fans  outside the stadium on Tuesday evening and the attendance of some disheartened looking footballers failed to make any difference to a club that is having a miserable summer, rather than a thrilling one.

And speaking of misery, former Deportivo boss Miguel Angel Lotina has attacked fullback Manuel Pablo during a chat with supporters, claiming that “I tried to teach him at 35 to cross and I couldn’t do it. In four years he could only put in one good one.”

The defender responded in a more genteel manner by saying that “we all know him well and what he is like. This will not ruin our relationship.” Besides, with Lotina’s love of defensive tactics, had Manuel Pablo put in a hundred crosses in a game, there wouldn’t have been anyone on the end of them in the box anyway.